LOS ANGELES -- The true test for the Rockies will come in the last month of the season.
When they’re at home, the Rockies are one of the best teams in the National League. But when they hit the road, they have one of the lowest winning records in baseball.
For manager Bud Black, the final stretch of 2021 will show what his club is truly made of, as they play 20 of their last 29 games against teams with records currently above .500. The Rockies' placement in the NL West standings isn’t factoring into how hard they play against teams fighting their way into the playoffs.
“I like the fact that we're going to be playing a number of pennant contenders here in the next five weeks,” said Black. “It's a great barometer for our team to play against certain teams, the Dodgers being one of them.”
The Rockies want to win and be the best version of themselves. They’ve pieced together victories while playing in one of the most competitive divisions in MLB, taking their wins where they can.
“We're going to play the scheduled 162 games and try to win all of them from when the ballgame starts,” Black said. “If teams get in our way of trying to get better, whether it's the Dodgers or the Giants or Phillies or Padres or whoever, that's on the schedule, that's fine. But we're going to play our game to win.”
Story driven by consistency
Trevor Story knows what the final few weeks of the regular season mean to him: He wants to find consistency at the plate while still trying to enjoy the game. His .244 batting average and 16 homers this season aren't cause for concern, but Story wants to do better than his latest stretch of 1-for-24 in seven games.
“Just trying to be consistent,” said Story. “I think that's one thing I haven't done a great job of this year, so just be consistent and have fun and enjoy my teammates and enjoy playing the game.”
Story has battled through injuries this season, the latest coming in the second game of the team’s split doubleheader against the Cubs on Aug. 25. He feels better after taking a couple of days off and undergoing different treatments. He was back in the starting lineup in the second game of the series against the Dodgers, but most importantly, he’s ready to turn the page on his season.
“I think days off when you're not going well always help mentally, for sure,” Story said. “Maybe [the injury] is a blessing in disguise.”
Ruiz back in familiar territory
The visiting dugout at Dodger Stadium was still the same a decade later. As soon as he stepped out of the clubhouse, Rio Ruiz felt the rush of emotions that he experienced when he was in his junior year at Bishop Amat Memorial High School in La Puente, Calif.
Ruiz led the school’s varsity baseball team to a state championship title with a two-run homer that landed in the right-field seats at Dodger Stadium, less than 25 miles from his hometown of Covina.
The crowd at the stadium was small, but Ruiz’s celebration around the bases matched the energy that shook Chavez Ravine. He pointed to the sky as he crossed home plate and pounded his chest in celebration heading into the first-base dugout as Bishop Amat all but sealed their fate as champions.
“This is the first time that I’m here since then. I walked into the dugout the day we got here and I just remembered everything,” said Ruiz. “It feels like a full-circle moment.”
As a high school senior, Ruiz was drafted by the Astros in the fourth round of the 2012 Draft, and has gotten big league reps with the Braves, Orioles and Rockies. Now with six seasons in the Majors under his belt, Ruiz has finally gotten back to where it all started.